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Get Your House Ready for Winter

The Midwest welcomed the seasonably warm month of October with open arms. We loved the 80-degree days and extended summer. However, we quickly wrapped our arms around ourselves for warmth as our temperatures dropped to an unexpected 40-degrees on Saturday, October 28th. With the cold weather nowhere close to disappearing, it is important to prepare ourselves and our family member for the cold.

While we are still in the fall season, it is never too early to start preparing for the winter cold especially since the blustery, winter cold is not waiting to arrive.

According to the State of Illinois’s Emergency Management Agency “Winter Weather Preparedness Guide” should prepare three things: their family, their home, and their car. This preparation should be done by assembling a family emergency supply kit, winterizing your home, and placing a traveler’s winter weather supply kit in your vehicle.

Family Emergency Supply Kit

In the event that your home should lose power stranding both you and your family in the winter cold, you and your family should prepare a family emergency supply kit. First, according to the Emergency Management Agency, a family emergency supply kit should include:

  • A battery-powered National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio and a battery-powered commercial radio. Be sure to have additional batteries in the kit as well.
  • Non-perishable food items such as dried fruit, granola bars, and canned food items. Be sure to have food that does not require cooking in the event that you do not have appliances to cook the food in.
  • Extra medications and special items for babies, the disabled, the elderly, or those with medical conditions.
  • Additional clean water in clean containers.
  • Flashlights and extra batteries. Avoid candles due to the potentiality of starting a fire.
  • A first-aid kit that includes non-prescription drugs and personal sanitary items.
  • Pet supplies including food, one or two toys, treats, and leash as well as any other pet specific items needed.

Use these items for short term emergencies. They will help you and your family stay safe in an emergency.

Winterizing your Home


The Emergency Management Agency states that homeowners should:

  • “Insulate walls and attics.
  • Caulk and weatherize doors and windows.
  • Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic.”

Keep Your Pipes From Freezing this Winter

Another consideration for homeowners during the winter months is the chance of freezing pipes. The Emergency Management Agency illustrates how to prepare your pipes to keep them from freezing in the winter:

  1. “Locate and insulate the pipes most susceptible to freezing: typically those near outer walls, in crawl spaces or in attics.
  2. Heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables can be used to wrap pipes. Be sure to use products approved by an independent testing organization, such as Underwriters Laboratories Inc., and only for the use intended (exterior or interior). Closely follow all manufacturers’ installation and operation instructions.
  3. Seal any leaks that allow cold air inside where pipes are located.
  4. Disconnect garden hoses and shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets.
  5. Make sure you know how to shut off the water, in case pipes burst.”

When You’re Snowed In

While these steps help lessen the likelihood of losing heat or water in the winter, there are still preparations that need to be taken to help in the event that you and your family are frozen or snowed in. Here are a few tips to ease the stress of being stuck in doors and keeping warm:

  • First, have an emergency stash of heating fuel. When severe storms hit, fuel availability may be scarce due to transportation issues.
  • Next, purchase and maintain emergency heating equipment. Examples include fireplaces, wood burning stoves, or space heaters. Keep ample fuel so that at least one room of your home can be warm at a time. Have proper ventilation when utilizing these heat sources to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher or multiple fire extinguishers on hand, and be sure that all members of your family know how to use one.

Traveler’s Winter Weather Supply Kit

When a home’s power goes out, at least the owner and their family have access to their belongings and emergency items. However, when a traveler is on the road and an emergency strikes in the cold, her predicament is a much harsher one. To keep from being stuck in the cold without any protection, the Emergency Management Agency advises that all travelers carry an emergency winter car kit.

R.F. Wittmeyer

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